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Dhanonjoy’s last bid to escape gallows
Moves SC yet again; hearing today
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 11
Foreseeing imminent hanging on August 14 after rejection of his clemency petition by the President, Kolkata’s condemned prisoner Dhanonjoy Chatterjee, in a desperate last-minute bid, today knocked the doors of the Supreme Court for the fifth time, seeking a stay on his execution for the rape and murder of a schoolgirl 14 years ago.

His counsel Colin Gonsalves made a special mention about filing of a fresh petition on behalf of Dhanonjoy by his brother Bikas Chatterjee before a three-judge Bench headed by Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde, which posted its hearing for tomorrow.

This is fifth petition on behalf of Dhanonjoy (43) before the apex court since 1994 when his appeal against the capital punishment was rejected by it for the first time for the gruesome rape and murder of 14-year-old Hetal Parekh at a Kolkata housing society on March 5, 1990.

Prior to it, he had moved a review petition against the rejection of his appeal, challenged the dismissal of his mercy petition by the West Bengal Governor, sought a direction to the Governor for re-examining of his clemency plea and challenged its rejection again only last month.

The President and the Governor each had rejected his mercy petition twice, the last one was turned down by Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam only on August 4.

In a fresh petition, his brother has sought quashing of the orders of the President and the West Bengal Governor for dismissing his clemency petitions, raising 10 grounds for it and a stay on his execution. He has sought commutation of his death penalty and pleaded for converting it into life imprisonment.

He has also sought a direction to the authorities to conduct a DNA test of his hair, found by the prosecution from the spot of the crime, to establish his identity beyond doubt, saying that in cases of capital punishment such a test was necessary.

The grounds raised by him for commutation of the death sentence include a delay of 13 years and eight months in his execution, which according to his counsel, meant putting a condemned prisoners on a continuous “death row”, the Calcutta High Court keeping the matter dorment for eight years after his mercy plea was rejected by the Governor for the first time on February 16, 1994, and West Bengal not leading proper evidence before the Governor and the President.

Dhanonjoy in the petition said the Constitution has given power to the Supreme Court under Article 32 for enforcing the fundamental rights of a citizen and by not meeting all these conditions, the authorities had violated his rights under Articles — 20(2) double jeopardy (for already undergoing 14 years imprisonment) 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) and 22 (protection and detention in certain cases).
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